It’s the question nobody is asking but I think it is worth thinking about.
I don’t want to dwell on Jacob Rees-Mogg very long, so let’s do him first. The point I want to make is that Rees-Mogg claims to be speaking for the ‘ordinary man in the street’ but he is actually only interested in lowering taxes for billionaires and big business, and removing pesky rules and regulations that (by doing things like protecting the environment or workers’ rights) stop his friends making lots of money. He pretends to stand against the elite but he is the elite. Like, painfully obviously so. He’s got the Lord Snooty hats and everything.
Banksy is, in my opinion, pulling a very similar trick. He is presented as the mysterious street artist of our hearts but is actually just a money making factory. I was genuinely shocked how many people took his shredding-the-painting stunt earlier this year on face value. We were told he had ‘tricked the art world’ and we all clapped along and thought he was terribly funny and provocative. The idea that the whole thing was meticulously planned seemed beyond our imagination. We laughed along and asked, “How will the idiot who paid a million for that put it on their wall now?”
Well, here’s the thing. Rich people don’t put art on their wall. They put it in warehouses on the grounds of airports in Belgium and Luxembourg. They don’t buy art to look at, they use it to avoid taxes and as financial investments. The person who paid a million for that piece-of-shit print of a child holding a balloon made the most sensible purchase this year. The price soared immediately and it will continue to go up for some time.
Banksy is now the most famous artist in Britain, just as Jacob Rees-Mogg is becoming one of the most famous politicians. Both have built their reputation on little more than hot air. Both have nothing to offer twenty-first century Britain. Both are concerned with little more than money. Maybe that is what the over-sized suits are for: hiding the aerosols when the cops turn up.